I just finished reading an article in the Union-Tribune about Jane Fonda called “She's Still Hanoi Jane.” The author of the article, Robert C. Caldwell, is a veteran of the Vietnam War and editor of the “Insight” section of the U-T.
The reason Fonda's in the news again is because she's publicizing her autobiography. She's doing book signings and television interviews, and, naturally, the issue of her highly controversial deeds during the Vietnam War have resurfaced-causing old scabs to open again and old flashbacks to flash again, and it's all just an ugly shame.
Caldwell's article is subtitled, “Nation still waits for an apology.” In it, he correctly points out that after all these years, Fonda still hasn't apologized for her “treasonous folly.”
Now I'm a tad skeptical that Jane Fonda's folly was ever “treasonous,” and I'm not that eager to pin a scarlet E for “Enemy fucker” on her blouse, but there's little doubt she did some seriously sketchy stuff in Vietnam, like posing with the North Vietnamese on an enemy anti-aircraft gun, broadcasting Anti-American propaganda across Radio Hanoi and claiming that American bomber pilots were war criminals-you know, the sort of scandalous shit that sticks with a girl for the rest of her life. And unless she marries Michael Jackson and gives birth to an alien, those actions will likely be the focal point of any article about her.
So you can understand why Caldwell and most Vietnam vets despise Jane Fonda and why he would write bad things about her. But I don't understand the subtitle: “Nation still waits for an apology.”
As if “The Nation” is a single entity with a single opinion on anything. As if we're all just waiting for that special report to chime in on our television: “This just in-Fonda apology still not given! Details at 11.”
As if all across the land husbands are coming home from a hard day of work, opening the front door and shouting, “Honey, I'm home-any word on that apology yet?”
The nation still waits for an apology? So, what am I, chopped liver? Because I'm not waiting. And I know there are a lot more people like me out there not waiting for an apology, either. Hundreds of thousands I bet. So when Caldwell says, “The nation waits for an apology,” he means the nation of people who agree with him. Like Hannity, and Limbaugh, and Coulter, and most war Veterans and anybody else who makes up this odd nation of people demanding apologies from Jane Fonda. A nation of apology demanders: Apology Demander Nation.
And I just don't get this apology-demanding business. Why do people expect other people to apologize for the things they say or think? If Fonda believed in her heart of hearts that America was horribly wrong in Vietnam and that American pilots were war criminals, then it is her duty as an American to say so-and loudly. She may be wrong about all of it, but if she believed she was right then she did exactly what she was supposed to do at great personal cost. For that she deserves kudos, not apology demanding.
Furthermore, if all your apology demanding finally forces her to cave in and apologize, you can't possibly believe that apology would be sincere. It would just be spin-controlling bullshit. Can you think of anything on the planet more useless than an insincere apology?
Another reason it's an utter waste of time to demand an apology from Jane Fonda is because demanding an apology means also waiting for an apology. Waiting is a submissive role. Why would you let Jane Fonda have that much significance in your life? Why does it fucking matter what Jane Fonda thinks about anything? How is anything Jane Fonda has to say relevant to anything you've got going on today, some 30 years after she did the thing you think she needs to apologize for? And, really, this whole Jane Fonda business has me wondering why people demand apologies, what is an Apology Demander really after, who decides who owes apologies to whom and just what is the essence of your typical Apology Demander?
My guess is that an Apology Demander is egocentric. He believes himself to be the center of the universe and does not recognize that there are other ideas and cultures out there that are vastly different from, though equally valid as, his own.
An Apology Demander is not interested in a free flow of ideas because demanding an apology means also a suppression of the idea.
Apology Demander equals Control Freak. He requires those with different ideas to conform to his and to apologize when they don't-which amounts to the same thing.
An Apology Demander does not prefer it when others think for themselves. He would rather decide for them which thoughts are acceptable and which must be repudiated.
Or that's how it seems to me.
If Robert Caldwell is reading this right now, I know what he's thinking. He's thinking, “What does this little puke think he can tell me about Vietnam?” And he'd be right. Compared to him, I don't know shit about squat about the Vietnam War. All I'm saying is this: “Dude, this Jane Fonda thing. Get over it.” You're a war hero, man. Jane Fonda is but a carbuncle on your ass. You have sacrificed yourself to serve your people and if you ever came into my bar, I would do with you what I do with every war veteran I've ever served, which is to shake his hand, say, “Thank you, man!” and let the whiskey pour. B
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and editor @SDcitybeat.com.